West Indies have included allrounder Andre Russell, who has played just one ODI since 2015, in their preliminary squad for the World Cup, but there was no room for Kieron Pollard or Marlon Samuels. Fast bowler Shannon Gabriel returns, two years since his last ODI, while Evin Lewis and Kemar Roach are also included having sat out the recent series against England with injury.
Also overlooked was Sunil Narine, the spinner whose previous ODI appearance came in 2016. He may require surgery on a finger ligament injury but remains keen to return for West Indies at some point. “I don’t feel my finger is quite ready for ODI cricket,” he told ESPNcricinfo.
Chris Gayle, who has signalled his intention to retire from ODIs after the tournament, is set for a fifth World Cup, while spinning allrounder Fabian Allen won selection ahead of Devendra Bishoo. Alzarri Joseph was not considered after suffering a muscle tear and dislocation of his right arm while at the IPL.
While questions about who might be included centred on a possible recall for Pollard, following his form at the IPL, or even a comeback from the retired Dwayne Bravo, the return of Russell was the most significant decision by the new selection panel headed by Robert Haynes.
Russell has been hampered by a knee injury since returning to cricket last year following an anti-doping ban. He made one ODI and three T20I appearances on Bangladesh’s tour to the Caribbean in mid-2018, but has since played most of his cricket on the franchise T20 circuit – most recently at the ongoing IPL, where has been a talismanic presence for Kolkata Knight Riders.
West Indies will play an ODI tri-series against Ireland and Bangladesh, before the World Cup, and could still make changes to their 15 before the final May 23 cut-off. They recently named their squad to travel to Ireland, featuring fringe candidates such as Jonathan Carter, Shane Dowrich and Roston Chase.
“Based on the new selection policy approach which allowed us to consider a number of players that have not regularly appeared in the side over the last two years, we had a wide base of talent from which to choose,” Haynes said.
“There were a number of tough calls we had to make to settle on our squad of 15, including ensuring there was some continuity in the side, but we believe we have chosen a strong squad of players taking into consideration such factors as experience, fitness, team balance, current form and conditions.
“In keeping with tournament regulations, we submitted our squad prior to the deadline date of yesterday. All players named for the tri-nations series could, however, stake a claim to be in the final 15-member squad that will be submitted after the tri-series and before the final deadline next month.”
Gabriel has only played 18 ODIs and missed the opportunity to stake his World Cup case last month, when he was handed a four-match ban for on-field comments made to Joe Root in the St Lucia Test. However, Haynes referred to the extra pace he offers as being important if the white ball does not swing.
Roach also missed the series against England, after suffering a stress reaction in his back, but returns to what is otherwise a largely settled squad that pulled off a 2-2 draw against the No. 1-ranked side.
West Indies preliminary World Cup squad: Jason Holder (capt), Fabian Allen, Darren Bravo, Carlos Brathwaite, Sheldon Cottrell, Shannon Gabriel, Chris Gayle, Shimron Hetmyer, Shai Hope (wk), Evin Lewis, Ashley Nurse, Nicholas Pooran, Kemar Roach, Andre Russell, Oshane Thomas